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United Faculty of Florida, Summer 2004

May 13, 2004

A Glimpse into the Sausage Factory

At the last Senate meeting in September, 2003, our Chapter made a motion, passed by the UFF Senate, to support in principle certain protections for health benefits. Our chapter suspected that something -- we were not quite sure what, but something -- would come up.

We were right.

Although we are public employees, like teachers and policemen, we are still getting our health benefits from the state plan. Benefits are notoriously complex, and during the reorganization, most reorganizers decided to leave reorganizing health benefits for later.

Here is how it works. The State of Florida underwrites (i.e., is responsible for paying claims for) a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) program for state employees. This is handled by the Department of Management Services (DMS), which in the spirit of efficiency, privatization, and sharing the boodle, subcontracts to an insurance company (currently Blue Cross/Blue Shield) to run the program. Notice that the state, not the subcontractor, is financially accountable for the payouts.

As we have all heard, health insurance costs are rising. Drugs cost more, insurance companies lost a bundle in the 1990s, rapacious lawyers are running amok, fraud is draining reserves, choose your villain. In 2002, Buck Consultants did a study for the DMS (see their report) outlining what might be done. And, so Dame Rumor tells us, the DMS warned the Legislature this year that the PPO program was running a deficit. This is Florida, land of cuisinart accounting, so it is not clear what income versus outgo generated what deficit, but because of this warning, steps were taken.

The steps occurred during “reconciliation.” As the gentle reader may have noticed, the Legislature was more fractious than usual this year, which complicates legislation because in order for a law to pass, the House and the Senate have to pass identical versions, and then that version has to be signed by the governor. Thus, once each chamber has passed its own law, they form a Conference Committee to ... reach a compromise. In practice, it is the ultimate forum for making insertions, deletions, and alterations without leaving fingerprints, since the sponsors cannot effectively defend their own bills.

If you go to the house and senate during session, you will see hundreds of bills. The faculty union has an executive director, a piece of a lobbyist, and some secretaries; but we are part of the Florida Education Association (FEA), whose Goverment Relations division has a director, five lobbyists, and a secretary. All to watch legislators, and there are a lot of legislators, with hundreds of bills. Which is why we always appreciate a little help from our friends and allies.

A while ago, the USF campus unions formed a committee of liaisons to keep each other informed. Three weeks ago, the USF Chapter President for American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, which represents USPS staff) told our liaison that there was a plan to replace our current health benefits plan with two plans: one more expensive, and the other covering less. After some hunting around, we found:

  • In the House Appropriations bill, the two-plan proposal we had been warned about, and
  • floating around, an amendment to return to the status quo.
As this was all in “reconciliation,” there were no fingerprints. There was, however, a $ 1000 bonus for good professors. No, I am not making that up.

We contacted the UFF office, which during the subsequent Senate meeting, reported the unpleasant details.

  • Under the Current Plan, the in-network deductible is $ 250 for individuals, $ 500 for families.
  • Under the Standard Plan, which would cost about what the Current Plan does now, the in-network deductible would be $ 1250 for individuals, and $ 2500 for families.
  • Under the Plus Plan, which would cost rather more than the Current Plan does now, the in-network deductible would be $ 350 for individuals, and $ 700 for families.
At the meeting, we asked for the FEA Government Relations division to do what it could.

We should note that FEA's membership consists almost entirely of K-12 teachers and educational support staff who are not on the state program: UFF is the “higher education” local for the FEA. Thus we were asking the Government Relations Director to put time and energy into an effort that benefits one local (and also state employees in AFSCME, which is a fellow AFL-CIO affiliate). This is where the common bond is important: by standing together, and protecting whoever is under attack at the moment, we are, in the long run, protecting the entire group. UFF was itself a target at that moment, and we were asking the rest of FEA to help us out.

And FEA did indeed stalk the Appropriations Conference committee. The Standard and Plus plans mysteriously disappeared (but we've been told that we would have had raises, or bigger bonuses, or something, if we the benefits changes had gone through), and the Current Plan is back in place. At least for this year.

There are several points to be made about this tale:

  • A lot of what a union does is seen by what doesn't happen. And just as good things don't happen by themselves, bad things don't not happen by themselves.
  • We really are in this together. This is just one example of the immense support higher education faculty have been getting from the K-12 teachers over the last few years. In fact, if it wasn't for them, it isn't clear that we would have a faculty union now.
  • This isn't over. The budget is out of whack, the governor is raiding trust funds, and the DMS is still chewing its nails. We have one year's grace. We should make use of it.
  • About those bonuses (not raises, just bonuses): Amendment 11 clearly places salary and compensation in the lap of the Board of Governors, which is currently passing the buck to the Boards of Trustees. The Legislature is out of the loop: it is not clear how legal those hypothetical raises were, even if the Legislature had had any intention of funding them.
Anyway, the reason why this tale was not hinted at in the last biweekly was that while things looked fixed by deadline last issue, the Legislature still had 24 hours to run, so out of prudence and superstition, the humble webmaster decided to wait it out.

About Salaries

On May 4, the St. Petersburg Times ran a story on how “USF faculty pay trails peers: A salary survey illustrates why the university has trouble attracting and retaining professors.” The article is on-line. Two points.

  • In the article, several people said that they were taken by surprise. This may seem odd, since the 2002-2007 Long Range plan addresses the salary problem, showing that the issue has long been a prominent one (see the table of benchmarks.)

    In fact, the response is rational, but misstated: the people who said that they were surprised were people who respond to political pressures, and they are saying that they were surprised -- pleasantly or otherwise -- by the increasing political heat on the issue, and the increasing political clout of those organizations (the faculty union and the faculty senate) pushing it.

    As usual, the lesson is that the leadership does not automatically act for the good of the university, but acts for its own convenience, trying to be good when that is not too inconvenient, but not necessarily exerting itself unless the rewards are great or the pressure high.

  • One point the story did not mention is that frazzled administrators may be tempted to rely on counter-offers to retain faculty, and that this may not work very well. A faculty member, after years of watching her/his real salary decline, and now receiving a high external offer, may react skeptically to a counter-offer. A faculty member may be wise to be equally skeptical of the long term intentions of the external suitor (they probably suffer from the same the-faculty-is-greener-on-the- other-side-of-the-fence syndrome that afflicts our administrators) but after enough disappointments, a faculty member might just leave anyway.

May 27, 2004

Reports on the FEA Meeting

The Florida Education Association is the joint affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (itself an AFL-CIO affiliate) and the National Education Association. Its primary legislative body, the FEA Delegation, meets annually in May. This year, it met in Orlando.

Two of UFF's delegates this year were USF's own Sonia Wohlmuth, from the College of Arts & Sciences, and Sherman Dorn, from the College of Education. Here are their reports.


From Sonia Wohlmuth:

As a first time delegate to FEA I was surprised at the size of the gathering (886 registered delegates) and the diversity of its participants (28.4% minority). The work done by FEA to ascertain that its membership is aware of legislative initiatives is admirable. These last six years have been difficult ones for K-12 public schools in Florida. The impact of unfunded mandates such as No Child Left Behind are keenly felt by classroom teachers who are asked to do more with less. The creation of the three year high school option is symptomatic of the disconnect between proposals for quality control and fiscal reality. The growing realization that the U.S. public eduational system, once a model for developing nations, is under assault was in many ways a leitmotif of the conference. School choice, privatization models, and voucher systems seem to portend a return to separate and unequal facilities. That this should be the undercurrent of an event that was also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education lent a bittersweet touch.

The FEA delegates are viewed as a highly political group capable of having a substantive impact on their communities. This was evident in the campaign rhetoric of the three Saturday morning visitors -- Bill Nelson, Betty Castor, and Jim Davis. All seem to feel that Florida will once again by the focal point of the presidential election. In fact, Bill Nelson seemed to think that the I-4 corridor will be the real deciding factor. It is one of the fastest growing areas in the state with residents at higher income and education levels than some areas of Florida; there is also growing diversity in this population with many new residents coming from out of state. It may well be that come November Florida will once again be in the national spotlight -- “All eyes on the mouse.”


From Sherman Dorn:

Here are three bits of news on the FEA Delegate Assembly.

First, a symbolic bit tied to the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (May 17, 1954): the Executive Cabinet of FEA approved a resolution in April commemorating the decision. The end of the resolution reads as follows:

“Accordingly, the FEA resolves to take the following steps to help our state realize the promise of Brown and, in so doing, bring our great democracy closer to its first principles:

  1. The FEA will continue to promote programs and policies that will help close the achievement gap, promote access and eliminate barriers to educational opportunity for all of Florida’s children.
  2. The FEA will identify, publicize and challenge inequalities that still exist.
  3. The FEA will stand with others who are committed to ensuring that all of America’s children receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled.
  4. The FEA will continue to oppose discrimination in all its forms—whether based on race, gender, or economic status.”

The most important practical business of the Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly was organizational housekeeping: voting on the last steps of merging two unions, a process that began in 2000. As a result of the merger, the merged FEA reduced professional staff by more than a dozen. The delegate assembly will continue to meet annually. Officers will be term-limited (to 3 terms). There will continue to be an elected financial officer.

The delegates also approved a budget with a state affiliate dues increase, but it will not affect the dues of any United Faculty of Florida member. Unlike most K-12 locals, faculty and related professional employees pay 1 percent of our salaries. Elementary and secondary teachers pay flat dues that rise whenever state and national dues go up. In almost all cases, they pay well more than 1 percent of their salaries in dues. When state or national affiliate dues rise, the United Faculty of Florida does not increase its dues but is forced to be a bit more efficient.

June 7, 2004

Special Report on the Administration Salary Proposal

On May 28, at the bargaining session where the union and the administration are negotiating a new contract, the administration's bargaining team presented a package of proposals, including a new version of Article 23, on salaries. While the preamble --- and statements to the press --- indicate 12 % raises over the next three years, the fine print describes a more dubious system.

The proposal divides the bargaining unit into two groups, ranked faculty and non-ranked faculty. As the Legislature mandates, everyone gets a $ 1000 bonus. After that, the division begins.

For Ranked Faculty

In the preamble, the proposal begins: "The University recognizes that salaries for ranked faculty at the University of South Florida are, on the average, substantially lower than at peer institutions ..."

It then proposes a 5.5 % average raise for the 2004-2005 academic year. The raises for individual ranked faculty are to be determined as follows. Faculty will be rated on a system with 100 points possible.

  • Up to 20 points will be awarded based on the 2003 annual evaluation. The method for awarding these points is not given.
  • Up to 30 points will be awarded based on the chair's or supervisor's evaluation of the faculty member's performance during the last five years; this component is apparently purely discretionary.
  • Up to 40 points will be awarded based on the distance between the faculty member's current salary and the market data provided in the Oklahoma State University annual survey, and on years of service in current rank. The method for assigning these points is not given.
  • Up to 10 points will be awarded based on total years of service. The method for assigning these points is not given.
(Notice that their proposal does not indicate how the 100 points are assigned, which, in practice, introduces a great deal of discretion into the procedure.)

Once these scores are computed, raises will be awarded based on these scores: the proposal does not make any statement about how to convert scores into raises except to say that the lower 25 % of the ranked faculty are to receive the minimum raise, which is apparently 1.5 % minus $ 1000 (or zero for such faculty earning less than $ 66,667 a year). (Note: we are talking about faculty who are rated "satisfactory" or above; as usual, faculty not rated satisfactory are not eligible for any additional money.)

This point system is a significant change from previous practice, which was to separate out the three kinds of annual raises.

  • Individual departments developed guidelines for converting annual evaluations into raises.
  • The minimum raise was a raise in base pay, and was not reduced by any rationale (the proposal reduces it by the amount of the one-year bonus).
  • Compression/inversion raises were computed and assigned separately.
What the effect of mixing these into one package is unclear, especially since the proposal does not tell how points would be converted into raises: we presume, but the proposal does not say so explicitly, that faculty with more points would get higher raises.

THE POINT IS: a quarter of the ranked (eligible) faculty get minimal raises, if any, and the remainder get raises based on a point system that mixes apples (performance), oranges (market equity), and nightshade (discretionary) and enters the result into an unknown formula. We have no guarantee that even half of the ranked faculty would get noticeable raises at all.

The proposal outlines the usual promotional raises.

The proposal also sets the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 raises to be 3 % each year, "barring significant budget reductions," etc. This is another major change, as the past practice was to bargain salary each year, because each year the amount of money (and the inflation rate) was different. Anyway, that would be an average raise of 11.9 % (which the proposal itself calls 12 %) over the next three years. But that 12 % may be just vapor as the administration implicitly claims the authority to rescind the second and third raises unilaterally.

One important point: the 5.5 % average raise is to be a raise in the base rate, not in what faculty actually earn. This is clear as summer salaries would be cut substantially: "Faculty on 9-month appointments shall receive 3 % of their regular 9-month base salary per contact hour taught during any summer term." The result for a faculty member with $ 50,000 9-month pay would be $ 3,500 less for teaching two courses (as opposed to $ 3,750 combined bonus and a 5.5 % raise, for a total increase over the 2004-2005 year of $ 250). If you want to find out how you would do, you can experiment with the MS Excel worksheet we have posted on-line. (download, and then replace the $ 50,000 in red with your salary, and after clicking on elsewhere in the window, watch the numbers).

For Non-Ranked Faculty

Both non-ranked faculty and A & P professionals will receive an average 2 % raise "to be distributed in consideration of performance and salary market," whatever that means. There is no mention of how low non-ranked faculty salaries are. We have posted their proposal, as a scanned .pdf file. (The 2001-2003 contract is on-line, a 101-page .pdf file.) Our bargaining team is studying the proposals and preparing a response.

June 10, 2004

Bargaining Gets Weird

Bargaining is a bit like poker, say experienced negotiators, which is why public announcements of contract proposals should be treated warily. In the last Biweekly Extra (above), we took a careful look at the much-ballyhooed administration proposal, and found it somewhat less (and other) than the 12 % raise it was announced to be. Now we take a broader look at the bargaining.

First, some background. On January 7, 2003, the administrations of the eleven Florida public universities (including New College) unilaterally decided not to recognize the contract between the faculty union and the Board of Regents. Within months, most administrations (including USF's) decided to recognize the union, which meant that bargaining new contracts should begin.

Seventeen months later, USF's bargaining is ahead of eight of the other universities, with three-fourths of the contract tentatively agreed upon. Seventeen months is a long time, and both the USF union chapter and the USF board have expressed ... impatience. The USF union Chapter has consistently expressed a strong preference for going with the old contract language, perhaps with some tweaking; this would allow us to move forward with a contract both sides understand and could live with. The administration has repeatedly presented major changes, which has slowed things down.

For faculty, this is extremely frustrating. We do have a contract, which the administrations refuse to recognize and which the Public Employees Relations Commission (appointed by Governor Bush) has declined to compel the administrations to recognize; our lawyers are proceeding on that case very cautiously. Like all contract negotiations, the bargaining teams have been meeting, making carefully worded statements and keeping their cards close to their chests. The reason is that contract negotiations are like poker, and information is valuable.

When contracts were negotiated between the union and the Board of Regents, contracts were negotiated within a matter of months. The union bargaining team was given authority to bargain, and the union senate didn't meddle much (although it did give advice, solicited and otherwise); this practice is quite common, going back to President Washington's policy decision to present treaties to the Senate and have them vote them up or down. In theory, this was presumption on Washington's part; in practice, if the Senate got involved in negotiating treaties, nothing would ever get signed.

This system gets severely stressed when negotiations go on ... and on ... and on ... .

Here is what the teams have been doing. In March, 2003 (fifteen months ago), the administration agreed to bargain a new contract, and we have been bargaining a contract with the same table of contents as the old one, negotiating article by article. The bargaining teams were appointed over summer 2003, but the administration couldn't or wouldn't get its act together until Chapter President Weatherford growled at the board last November. Since then, the two teams have negotiated new versions of three-fourths of the articles (essentially the old language, with tweaking, essentially what our team proposed, although sometimes it takes a while to get the article agreed on). Each article, once agreed upon, is initialled by the two Chief Negotiators (Accounting Professor Bob Welker for the union; Internal Counsel Noreen Segrest for the Administration); once all articles are initialled, the contract has to be ratified by the faculty in the Bargaining Unit (i.e., by a ratification election) and by the Board.

So by May 28, when both the union and the board are publicly expressing their desire to finish up, imagine our surprise when the administration team presents a proposal for all the remaining articles as a take-it-or-leave-it package, with a lot of radically new language, including major changes in the salary article:
spacer You may compare the old language of Article 23 in the contract (huge .pdf file) versus the administration proposal. Our analysis of the new proposal, send out as a Biweekly Extra, is on-line. No wonder that bargaining session began with an administration team member telling our Chief Negotiator that he wouldn't like the proposal; he was right. spacer
And then a member of the administration team says that the administration may not be able to keep the proposal under wraps for long. Indeed, within hours, the St. Petersburg Times is calling for comment.

Since then the St. Petersburg Times published a story: USF faculty offered 12% raise: The school is trying to elevate professors' pay, which is marginally less than their national peers, as did the USF Oracle: Genshaft proposes 12 percent increase in faculty salaries, and the Tampa Tribune: Union Dislikes Raise Structure For USF Faculty (warning: Tribune stories don't last long on site).

It is not clear why the administration created this hullaballoo. Of course, it is nice to brag about raises, however fictional, after Gainesville announces its raises --- or what Gainesville says is its raises, as it refuses to even recognize the union there. The entire episode has probably simply eaten up two weeks of bargaining, with what accomplishment is unclear.

As to the actual salary situation, there are two benchmarks for ranked faculty. One is the Board of Regent's own benchmark in the 2002-2007 long-range plan, which calls for the mean salary to be raised by about a third between 2002 and 2007. The other is the study outlined at the Faculty Senate site at , indicating that USF mean salary is about a fourth below the national average. Presumably, the situation is comparably bad for non-ranked faculty, although there has been less publicity about that, and certainly nothing in the administration proposal for addressing that problem.

Tomorrow, the bargaining teams meet again. Hopefully, this means that some bargaining will take place.

June 24, 2004

Salary Structures

For the last few weeks, the administration and the media have been trumpeting an (up to) 12 % (mean) raise (over three years) (for some faculty). The listservs communicated a reminder (a 22.5 % raise for an executive vice president) that senior management lives in a different world. Meanwhile, there is more an more grumbling about a certain 2 %. Meanwhile, the Office of Sponsored Research tells grant applicants to presume a 3.4 % - 3.8 % rise per year over the next few years.

We know what it means: different employees are getting different pay rises -- and different kinds of pay rises. First, a word about rises. The kinds of rises in the news lately have been base raises and bonuses ... and summer pay.

  • Employees have a base salary. This may be most of their salary (if a policeman or a secretary or a liberal arts professor); other sources are external funding ("soft money"), consulting fees, other fees (many doctors and lawyers in the faculty get standard patient and client fees), etc. A base raise is an increase in the base salary, and permanently increases the base salary.
  • Employees can receive bonuses. This year, the Legislature granted all employees a $ 1,000 bonus. This has no effect on the base, but press releases and other documents may pretend otherwise: witness the tendency in recent news articles to include the $ 1,000 as part of faculty raises in the recent "12 % raise" proposal.
  • Summer pay was one of the great victories of the union: Clause 8.4(b)(2) of the contract said that faculty will get paid at the same rate for summer teaching as during the year. (The administration's new proposal reduces summer pay substantially.) Summer pay is computed from the salary base, but is not part of the salary base.
There are several kinds of USF employees:
At USF, faculty and staff are seriously underpaid. And faculty cannot ignore this big picture. Just as ranked faculty cannot ignore the corrosive effect of low morale among non-ranked faculty --- upon which the university relies for much of its educational and community missions --- so faculty in general cannot ignore the debiliting effect of low morale among the staff who we rely on to keep the university running. We are, together, the university, and the health and well-being of the university is all our business.

One Percent

Several years ago, Governor Jeb Bush wanted to give faculty ... a bonus. No raise, just a one-year bonus. The union held out, and the issue went to impasse, and as a result, (satisfactory) faculty got a 2.5 % across-the-board raise. (All faculty: again, the administration is not going to deny out-of-unit faculty something that the union wins for in-unit faculty.)

The union has been able to protect and defend faculty repeatedly, but it is limited by the level of support it gets from those it protects and defends. Membership and participation is voluntary, like donating blood. But as donated blood is a matter of life versus death, union membership and participation is a matter of justice versus caprice. And the reality is that a union needs a lot of support.

An old union organizer told me that he could tell the level of membership and participation in a bargaining unit by looking at its contract: no matter how effective the bargaining team (and we have been very lucky in ours), it requires the clout strong membership gives it in order to succeed. And it requires a lot of volunteers simply to do the job of communicating with faculty, finding out their needs, desires, and aspirations, and communicating what the union knows and is doing.

Here is a mental exercise. Everyone who was here that impasse year has a salary 2.5 % higher than it would have been if it hadn't been for the union. (And that's just for that year: over the years, the union has won many things for faculty.) Union membership is 1 % of base salary. (Yes, that's a lot: for the gentle webmaster, it's almost as much as the combined membership fees for the three primary academic organizations of my field.) Joining the union is tantamount to donating two-fifths of that one raise, and keeping the remaining 1.5 %; that two-fifths will pay the dues for life. In a sense, all subsequent raises won by the union (real ones, not "12 % with fine print") are free.

So send in a membership form today: it's on-line at . And anyone interested in volunteering to help the union help faculty --- and the university --- can contact our membership chair, Professor Sherman Dorn, at

July 8, 2004

The English Department

Over the past two months, several faculty members of the USF English Department have been accused of various infractions and derelictions. While the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida is not very involved at this point, the union is profoundly concerned by many aspects of this affair.

First, we are all members of the USF community, and the entire community is involved when a department gets in this much trouble. We are all affected in many ways, from our concern for our colleagues and the embarrassment of the university to the programmatic and personnel changes and the precedents set. This is a serious if not dangerous situation, and we all must hope for an effective and equitable resolution of the problem.

We have seen a sequence of faculty members publicly accused of violating, or nearly violating, or perhaps violating rules and regulations, possibly unwittingly. We are concerned about this for three reasons.

  • It should be clear whether a rule or regulation has been violated. Many rules and regulations are promulgated for good reasons. But they are written in words, and that creates problems. The words may be ambiguous, lending them to a variety of interpretations: if a faculty member interprets them one way, and the administration another, the result is often a lot of headache. Or the words may have unintended consequences, and if one party goes with what they believe is the spirit of the law, and the other with the wording, the result is more grief.

    In general, the courts tend to prefer to stick to the wording of the law when possible, if only because the alternative requires a degree of clairvoyance. But that means that rules and regulations should be written with care. And if a rule is written with the intention of barring certain behavior, and yet the wording does not bar that behavior (or does not bar apparently similar behavior), it is usually wise to change the rule so that "from this day forward ..." Disciplining someone for something not exactly in the rules is usually unfair, invites tyranny, and is often illegal.

    There is another problem: the rule that is always broken (like the 65 mph speed limit). Such a rule allows the administration the discretion to proceed against almost anyone they dislike, and gives them the alibi that "we're just enforcing the rules." But that is not quite true: such rules are selectively enforced. Unions tend to dislike such booby traps, preferring rules to be either uniformly enforced or abolished. Ambiguity in the rules, or selectivity in enforcement, leads to several pathologies. Timid faculty refuse to take risks, and either do nothing or bombard their superiors with requests for clearances. Aggressive faculty gamble, stumbling from one mix-up to another. Administrators divide into those who don't like their time consumed by nonsense, often letting serious infractions slide with the minutae, or those who are determined to hew the line, obstructing the operation of the university for one triviality after another. And we have not mentioned the rare capricious administrator who uses his discretion for his own ends.

  • Some of the accusations are against faculty who thought that their actions were legitimate because ... they were told it was okay.

    Faculty have varying competence in paperwork, and some of our top faculty (in their own subjects) have difficulty with bureaucracy. Faculty rely on administrators to administrate, and administration includes keeping track of the complex detail work that administrators --- not faculty --- have expertise in.

    Even the IRS has a (limited) policy of not punishing taxpayers who follow the advice of IRS operators: the IRS still wants its taxes, but waives the fines. Similarly, a wise policy at USF would be to require that anomalies previously accepted by the administration should be rectified without punishment.

    The moral problem is that a faculty member should be able to rely on official advice. More practically, if faculty cannot rely on official advice, the only safe thing to do is to get written confirmation from the provost's office. Does the provost have the resources to handle every query? The result of a punitive policy could be paralysis.

  • There is a feeding frenzy aspect to all this. One investigation produces alarming findings (released to the press) which generates audits producing more findings (some incomplete) and so on. Even if there is a serious problem in the English Department, it is not clear how a frenzy will improve matters.

    Thus far there have been eight articles in the USF Oracle, four each in the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, and one in the Chronicle of Higher Education -- not counting letters to the editor.

    A more conservative method of conducting an investigation of a department is to have auditors go through the books --- quietly --- and talk to people --- discretely --- and then present a report to the Administration, which only then takes action. This drop-drop-drop approach demoralizes the department, alarms the students, and increases the risk of litigation: precipitate revelations, if proven false, may be difficult to defend.

    Thus far, a chair has been deposed, two faculty have left, and a third non-renewed, leaving the English Department's Writing Center imploded. It is not clear how much of this is due to just to the frenzy itself, and any department could find itself in a frenzy. And frenzies can spread ...

One final observation. There is a principle on dealing with infractions called "progressive discipline." The idea is that many violations are due not to malice but to frailty, and discipline supposed to be corrective, not punitive. Thus the first or second violation are not treated as harshly as the third. Draconian punishment, treating first and second infractions severely (such as being fired), tend to be demoralizing, but effective as a deterrent only if uniformly applied (which it rarely is). The primary reason for draconian punishment is that it makes for good theatre, but that is not a reasonable way to run a university.

July 13, 2004 Extra

A Clarification of the Bargaining Process

A few weeks ago the Administration presented, and publicized, a salary proposal as part of a bundle of items, to the UFF bargaining team. This is the proposal for a somewhat-less-than 5.5 % MEAN raise this year, with an unenforceable promise of two subsequent 3 % MEAN raises, to ranked faculty. (Everyone else -- except senior administrators -- get a 2 % MEAN raise; oh yes, and the legislature gave out $ 1000 bonuses.)

THIS IS ONLY A PROPOSAL: THE UFF TEAM HAS NOT ACCEPTED THE PROPOSAL, AND BARGAINING IS CONTINUING. The administration has assured us that they are bargaining in good faith and that their initial proposal is not a “done deal” but a legitimate proposal subject to the bargaining process.

Here is what is happening.

  • The Administration and UFF bargaining teams are meeting to work out a contract to present for approval. They are going through the table of contents of the old contract, article by article, (but not in order). After language for an article is agreed upon, the Chief Negotiators of each team initial the agreed upon article (thus Tentatively Agreeing, or TA'ing, the article), and go on to the next article.
  • After the entire contract has been TA'd, it is then presented to the Board of Trustees, and to the faculty for approval. ONLY AFTER BOTH THE BOARD AND THE FACULTY APPROVE THE CONTRACT IS IT IN FORCE. Thus the administration proposal that we've seen described is still only a proposal; in particular, there is no Tentative Agreement on Article 23 on salaries (or summer school).
Recently, there has been some movement on Article 23, and we hope to get Tentative Agreement on language both sides can live with. Six articles to go!

We have refrained from broadcasting particulars because public announcements of proposals can restrict a team's freedom of action. We do discuss bargaining developments at chapter meetings, and one of the perks of membership is that members are always welcome to chapter meetings on payday Fridays for free lunch (sandwiches and sodas) and bargaining updates. (And we often conclude by giving a book as a door prize.) And the more support and counsel we have, the stronger we are. Come and join the movement!

July 22, 2004

Bargaining Update: Still Negotiating Salaries

The United Faculty of Florida has NOT agreed to the administration's May proposal on salaries.

Several collective-bargaining sessions in the last two weeks have brought additional discussions but no tentative agreement on the salary part of a collective bargaining agreement. As of today, there are more than 20 articles with tentative agreements by both bargaining teams, and the rest of the articles are on the table for discussion.

More specific information will be available when the bargaining head reports to the chapter meeting Friday, July 23, noon, in EDU 314.

Your Protection During Investigation: What the Weingarten Rule Means

In 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that a private-company employee represented by a union has the right to request union representation at any interview that a prudent person thought might lead to discipline. Because the name of the case was NLRB v. Weingarten, this is called the Weingarten rule. In 1978, the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission decided that Weingarten rights extend to public employees in Florida. (The title of that case was Seitz v. Duval School Board, 4 FPER 4154.)

This is one of the most powerful procedural rights that unionized public employees have outside a collective-bargaining agreement. (Yes, the same rights are also codified in the expired 2001-03 collective bargaining agreement.) YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP IMPROMPTU QUESTIONING.

But a faculty member represented by the United Faculty of Florida must assert her or his Weingarten rights. If you are in a meeting and a supervisor or a representative of the dean's office asks questions that a prudent person thinks MIGHT lead to discipline, all you need to do is say, "I would like a representative of the United Faculty of Florida with me before I answer questions."

If a supervisor, dean, or an auditor requests a meeting with you about something that might be disciplinary - EVEN IF IT IS LABELED AS PRELIMINARY OR SOMEONE PROMISES YOU "IT'S NOTHING" - you have the right to a union representative being with you. While a union representative cannot interfere with questioning, having an outside person can change the dynamics, and you will have someone else there who will be taking notes independent of the administration. One experienced union hand once told the newsletter editor, "The worst timing for a go-it-alone attitude is when you're under investigation. Only a fool then throws away the rights that unions bring."

How Bargaining Concludes: Two Paths

Under Florida public-employee law, there are two common ways for collective bargaining to end.

Path one: agreement. If bargaining teams for the two sides agree to the text of a collective bargaining agreement, they are legally bound to submit that agreement for ratification by the employer (the USF Board of Trustees) and the collective-bargaining agent (the United Faculty of Florida). Only rarely does either side refuse to ratify an agreement in Florida.

Path two: impasse. If bargaining teams for the two sides cannot agree on the entire text of a collective bargaining agreement, and at least one side declares an impasse, there are arguments before a neutral impasse hearing master about the parts of the agreement that are at impasse. The hearing master recommends a settlement. If the two sides continue to disagree, statute decides who has the right to impose an impasse resolution. An impasse resolution sometimes follows the hearing master's recommendation closely, but that is not required by law and was not usually the case when we were state employees and the legislature imposed the final settlement. Now that the Board of Trustees is supposed to resolve impasses, we have no record on which to base a prediction. UFF elected officials have serious concerns about the ability of the BOT to be a neutral decision-maker in resolving an impasse if it occurs, because they are unelected employers and because the USF BOT has a mediocre record in respecting faculty rights and recognizing faculty work.

An impasse resolution is only in force for ONE year. (And the two sides go back to the table for that part of the collective bargaining agreement.)

After an impasse resolution is imposed, the two sides STILL have the capacity to ratify the agreement, including BOTH the pieces agreed to in collective bargaining AND the impasse resolution. Ratification createsa binding agreement for all the agreed-to parts for the length of the contract. Again, an impasse resolution is the exception, only in forcefor one year. The agreed-to parts of the agreement become the "status quo"terms and conditions of employment that continue beyond the end of the agreement unless changed by collective bargaining. An impasse resolution does NOT become the status quo.

(This explanation is a simplified version of a complex process.)

August 4, 2004 Extra

Correction: In the August 5 Biweekly contents, it was reported that this Extra was broadcast to the unit on August 4. In fact, it was broadcast to the union membership on August 4.

Defend Summer Pay and Fight for Fair Raises!

EVENT: UFF Chapter President's address to the Board of Trustees

DATE: Thursday, August 19, 2004

TIME: 11 a.m. until whenever the Board lets Roy speak

PLACE: Marshall Center Ballroom, Tampa Campus

Contract negotiations with the administration are at a critical point; we are in difficult bargaining over faculty salaries. Administrators want faculty to accept a salary package that would both cut pay for summer teaching and leave many faculty salaries lagging behind increases in the cost of living.

We need UFF members to demonstrate their commitment to seeking a fair salary structure. Come to the Trustees' August 19th meeting to show your support for union chapter president Roy Weatherford and his call for a fair contract that equitably rewards faculty effort. Your attendance will help send a strong signal that we insist upon fair raises and will not stand for any scheme that effectively cuts faculty pay.

RSVP to Sherman Dorn to let organizers know that you can attend on August 19th and for more details about the event.

Background follows.................


The collective-bargaining teams from the United Faculty of Florida and the USF administration have met several times in the last few weeks, and while the union bargaining team has made considerable progress on several items, the teams are still apart on several issues, including the following two:

  • The administration still wants to cut summer teaching salaries for 9-month faculty.
  • The administration wants only a 1.0-percent minimum raise for faculty rated SATISFACTORY OR BETTER.
The bargaining team is resisting these administration proposals because they are not in the faculty's interest nor are they in the university's long-term interest.
  1. Cutting summer salaries is unequal and possibly illegal. For more than two decades, the union contract required Florida universities to pay nine-month faculty on a pro-rated basis during the summer. The administration would like to end that practice, and if you are a nine-month faculty member, you can see how much money you'd lose by downloading an Excel spreadsheet ( and inserting your nine-month salary. Generally, faculty who teach in the summer need to do so, and the summer-salary cut thus pays for the raises of some faculty by cutting salary for others. In addition, faculty on research grants would be paid at the pro-rated basis, so the cut only targets those who are teaching. We believe this would immeasurably harm the morale at USF beyond the concrete cuts to individual faculty.

    In addition, some union officers are concerned that the proposal may be illegal, because summer research and administrative assignments would still be paid on a pro-rated basis. For example, if a faculty member teaches a course and also conducts research on a federal grant, the faculty member would then be paid at a higher rate for the grant than what the university would otherwise pay her or him for teaching. In the past few years, USF has had to repay several millions dollars of federal grants for the violation of federal cost-accounting standards. One of the absolute dicta of federal grants is that faculty are not paid higher on the grant than by the university otherwise. Whether this split pay scale for the summer would violate federal standards is an open question, but it is unwise to risk the violation. In general, we think it much wiser to pay each member of the faculty on the same scale (for that faculty member) for each contact hour of assignment, whether the faculty member is engaged in teaching, research, service, or administrative duties.

  2. A 1.0-percent pay raise would in effect be a pay cut for satisfactory faculty. The union bargaining team is concerned that dozens of faculty rated satisfactory would receive only the minimum pay raise under the administration's current proposal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Southern urban inflation rate was 3.2 percent between June 2003 and June 2004 ( You can do the math. We are not talking about faculty rated unsatisfactory or poor (who have not been eligible for raises in the past, either).


First, there will be a bargaining session this evening -- Wednesday, August 4 -- where the United Faculty of Florida bargaining team will again present counter-proposals that do not involve a summer teaching pay-cut and do not low-ball faculty who work hard and are rated satisfactory or better.

In addition, the chapter is planning the attendance of as many faculty as possible at the August 19 trustees' meeting on the Tampa campus. If the administration's bargaining team will not make a reasonable counter-proposal at the next bargaining session, we need to show the top-level administrators and the trustees that the faculty as a whole are dissatisfied with the administration's proposals thus far. Typically, only administrators and a few others show up at trustees' meetings. Having many faculty attend the trustees' meeting would be unusual and would show significant support for the bargaining team's efforts.

In the last academic year, the union bargaining team has spent hundreds of work hours on the bargaining sessions and in preparation for them -- with no pay and no course releases. The rest of us can support their efforts RIGHT NOW by making plans to attend the August 19 meeting. If we have a successful conclusion to bargaining, we do not need to show up.

But we need to begin planning now. Starting this weekend, teams of union members will be calling members (and non-members we know to be supporters of the United Faculty of Florida), asking you and your colleagues to commit to coming to the trustees meeting on the 19th. If you know NOW that you can make the meeting, please reply by e-mail. And if you are willing to volunteer a few hours to make phone calls, please let us know.

Several years ago, USF President Judy Genshaft promised that she would not use the reorganization of the state universities as an excuse to cut the contractually established summer pay rate. We need to make sure she upholds her promise. We need your commitment to help out, either by coming August 19 or by helping to make phone calls to your colleagues. This is for your future and the university's future.

August 5, 2004

The Staff Union

Probably no organization has endured more attacks from Governor Bush than the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. AFSCME represents the employees that were the primary targets of privatization, downsizing, reassignment, and public displays of gubernatorial and legislative contempt. Of course, our own Florida Education Association (FEA) has also felt the heat, but we were but next in the line of fire.

It is a measure of our respective positions that the United Faculty of Florida, a union local of the FEA, could pressure the USF administration to voluntarily recognize UFF three months after the university system reorganization, while the USF administration has absolutely refused to deal with AFSCME, which has represented staff for years.

Readers may recall UFF's card campaign, when UFF asked faculty to sign a card saying that they they wanted to be represented by UFF. About two thirds of all faculty signed, enough to compel a "certification election" on whether faculty wanted to be represented by UFF. Such elections are not pleasant, and avoiding the unpleasantness was probably one reason why the USF administration decided to voluntarily recognize UFF.

AFCSME also collected enough cards from staff to compel an election, and because of the administration's stubbornness, there will be an election. The Public Employee's Relations Commission (PERC) will be sending ballots to staff at home addresses on August 18, and they must be received by PERC by September 14. If the majority of votes are in favor of representation by AFSCME, then the USF administration will be compelled, by law, to recognize and bargain with AFSCME, just as the administration has recognized and is bargaining with faculty and police.

AFSCME and FEA are affiliates: FEA is jointly affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and both AFSCME and AFT are members of the AFL-CIO. During the recent confrontations with the administration, and with the legislature, AFSCME and AFT have collaborated on major issues (readers may remember that it was AFSCME which gave us the original heads up on a legislative plan to jack up our health insurance premiums, a plan we together managed to block, at least for this year: see ; it is the vigilance of our affiliates, not the generosity of the administration, that is responsible for our respite). Unions have long found that if they do not hang together, they hang separately.

And it is in the university interest to have a staff union. Unions are ultimately in favor of due process, and the professionalism that due process entails, and opposed to the capricious and short-sighted use of power that causes major problems in the long run. And unions create job conditions that make it easier to attract capable employees.

Earlier this summer, as PERC deliberated over the cards, the UFF Chapter at USF resolved to ask faculty to show their support for the staff union with green ribbons:
Resolution of the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida regarding the Certification Election of USPS employees at USF, approved May 28, 2004:

Article I, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution guarantees that public employees have the right to collective bargaining, and Chapter 447 of Florida Statutes establishes procedures for certification of public-employee unions, including a certification election when an employer does not voluntarily recognize a union that has demonstrated evidence of support through pledge cards.

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida celebrates the rights of all public employees, including USPS staff at USF, and it encourages all USPS employees in the relevant USF bargaining unit to vote in the upcoming USPS certification election. On principle, employees in a bargaining unit should use their rights to vote in certification elections when they are called.

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida also encourages faculty to demonstrate support of the collective-bargaining voting rights of staff members by wearing green ribbons the week before the certification election. The USF Chapter will purchase ribbons and pins and make them available to members and other employees in the bargaining unit.

If you want to help distribute ribbons in your building, please contact
Sherman Dorn.